May 13, 2011

Student discovery on display at Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Lab Research

Photo by David Ryder

Undergraduate student and Amgen Scholar Vicky Herrera and
graduate student Michael Lee in professor Horacio de la Iglesia’s biology lab.

Undergrads share their contributions to solving research problems at annual event

Nearly 900 of the University of Washington’s most talented and accomplished undergraduates will showcase their contributions to innovative and groundbreaking research at the Fourteenth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, the largest in University history.

Undergraduate Research Symposium14th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium Event Details

WHEN: Friday, May 20, 2011, noon-5 p.m.

WHERE: Mary Gates Hall, select rooms in Johnson Hall, and Meany Studio, UW Seattle

Navigate the Symposium with My Symposium

Search the online proceedings, locate oral and presentation sessions that interest you, and create your own, personalized proceedings.

Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor will provide opening remarks and five faculty members will be honored with an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. The Symposium is organized by Undergraduate Academic Affairs’ “Undergraduate Research Program”:http://www.washington.edu/research/urp/, which facilitates research experiences for students in all academic disciplines.

The Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium enables undergraduates to present what they have learned through their research to a larger audience and provides a forum for students, faculty, and the community to discuss cutting-edge research topics and examine how undergraduate research can even help solve real-life issues. By having spontaneous conversations and answering unexpected questions about their research, students learn to translate their work into language for a general audience and make a more direct, personal connection between research and their undergraduate education.

With such wide-ranging topics as break-dancing as a cultural metaphor, oncology, developing a constitution for Dar-fur, materials science, and issues of aging and immunity, undergraduate research at UW has truly taken 21st century education out of the classroom and into the field.

While one of the largest of its kind in the country, the Undergraduate Research Symposium is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to undergraduate research at the UW (one student will even present on the “Art of Cloning Alaskan Glaciers”). In 2009-10, more than 6,000 undergraduates participated in University-sponsored research, working with faculty mentors and benefiting from the University’s resources as a research powerhouse. Through research, undergraduates fully engage with a meaningful issue or problem within their discipline.

Senior Vicky Herrera, who is also an Amgen Scholar and Mary Gates Research Scholar, will present “Disruption of Sleep Impacts Hippocampal Memory Performance.” By conducting research, Herrera writes in an email that she has “gained an appreciation and understanding of the time and effort put forth behind all the data we see in books. In understand the challenges faced in circadian experiments and appreciate and value them more. For example, graduate student Michael Lee and I had to stay awake for twenty-eight hours to record data once. The graphs and figures we just glance at might have taken years to obtain.”

Lauren Currin, a senior in environmental science resource management, will present “Effect of the U-Pass on UW Alumni Commuting Attitudes and Behavior,” by sharing the findings from a survey to UW alumni on how participating in the University’s U-PASS program altered the commuting behaviors of its participants.

Abdelraziq Adam, a senior in law, societies and justice, plans to present his poster, “Dar-fur Constitution Drafting.” Adam researched the work of political scientists and legal scholars whose work has focused on conditions that can build an effective constitution. In his abstract, Adam writes that this research “will reveal the critical components that an effective constitution must have in order to protect human rights and promote stability in Dar-fur.”

Undergraduate Research SymposiumStudents from all three UW campuses as well as students from other Washington four-year and community colleges will share their work through poster and oral presentations, encouraging interdisciplinary discourse and allowing students to learn from each other about a broad range of innovative research arenas. New this year, McNair Scholars from around the country will present their research at the Symposium as a part of the Pacific Northwest McNair & Early Identification Program Research Conference. To accommodate the number of students interested in presenting their research, the Symposium will have two distinct oral and poster sessions and expand into select rooms in Johnson Hall.

Faculty will moderate the oral presentation sessions, further demonstrating their support of undergraduate research. This support is recognized in part by students nominating faculty for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards. The 2011 Awardees are Rachel R. Chapman, associate professor of anthropology; Stephen D. Hauschka, professor of biochemistry; Kevin M. King, assistant professor of psychology; Richard E. Ladner, professor of computer science and engineering; and Maria V. Razumova, research scientist in bioengineering. Students cite their mentors’ abilities to guide, challenge, and involve them as critical to their learning.


The May 2011 episode of UW 360 includes a feature on the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Examples of oral presentations

Following are a few examples of the 40 concurrent oral presentation sessions. These show the breadth of topics to be discussed at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Though one student is noted in the sessions below, 5-9 students present their research in each session, some presentations are group presentations, and each session is moderated by a faculty member.

Aquatic Food Chain Ecology
Jeanelle Miller, senior, aquatic and fishery sciences
Oral presentation topic: Geomorphic Evolution and Salmon Adaptation in the Wood River Watershed of Sothwest Alaska
Mentor: Daniel Schindler, aquatic and fishery sciences
Session Moderator: Frieda B. Taub

Engineering Devices and Mathematical Foundations
Pranoti (Prano) Hiremath, senior, bioengineering
Oral presentation topic: Noninvasive Expansion System for the Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib: A Surgical Tool for Improving Treatment of Thoracic insufficiency Syndrome
Mentors: Peter Richardson, pulmonary, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Jaon Sanders, bioengineering
Session Moderator: Kristi Morgansen

Exploring Education: Teaching & Learning
Victor Esquivel, junior, applied and computational mathematical sciences
Oral presentation topic: Impacts of Reform and Traditional Mathematics Teaching Approaches on Student Learning
Mentor: Elham Kazemi, education
Session Moderator: Tom Halverson

Genes and Proteins in Human Disease
Bi (Bi Ying) Huang, senior, biochemistry
Oral presentation topic: Transcriptional Roles of Individual Control Elements within the Regulatory Regions of a Muscle Gene
Mentor: Steve Hauschka, biochemistry
Session Moderator: Joachim Voss

Alternative Representations and the Politics of Understanding
Joseph Frantz, senior, English (creative writing)
Oral presentation topic: Donald Justice and New Formalist Poetry
Mentor: Brian Reed, English
Session Moderator: Chandan Reddy

Comments are closed.